SAE Standardizes the Tesla NACS Charger in North America
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has officially decided to standardize Tesla's charging connector design as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). The announcement was made via a press release about two months ago, though it largely went unnoticed — until one industry expert spoke up.
Above: A Tesla charging port plugged into a Supercharger stall (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).
Vehicle teardown expert and automotive engineer Sandy Munro brought the SAE’s decision to light via a short video on the social media platform X last week, after it was announced in a press release months ago. According to Munro, this is big news for the EV industry as a whole, at least in North America.
The SAE made the decision to standardize the Tesla connector after Ford announced the integration of the NACS charge port in its future EVs. Weeks later, General Motors (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Vauxhall) and Rivian also agreed to standardize the NACS charging connector for its EVs, followed by Mercedes-Benz (Daimler AG) and others.
The SAE’s standardization of the NACS means that EV charging companies across North America will be adopting the standard. Since SAE’s announcement, EV charging providers such as Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, and more have also announced plans to integrate the Tesla NACS connector at their charging stations in the coming years.
According to the SAE International's press release, the adoption of the Tesla NACS will be made in an expedited timeframe, meaning it will not take years to make it happen. SAE’s press release stated the following:
Standardizing the NACS connector will provide certainty, expanded choice, reliability and convenience to manufacturers and suppliers and, most of all, increase access to charging for consumers,” said Frank Menchaca, president of Sustainable Mobility Solutions, an innovation arm of SAE affiliate Fullsight. The organization in a statement credited the U.S.’s Joint Office of Energy and Transportation for fostering the SAE-Tesla partnership and “expediting plans to standardize NACS – an important step in building an interoperable national charging network that will work for all EV drivers.
Although Tesla dubbed the NACS connector a “standard,” it is not one that had been reached through industry consensus. The SAE standardization process is intended to assure reliable and consistent performance for any EV model or charging network.
The difference between a J1772 (CCS Type 1) charger and a Tesla NACS connector isn't tough to spot when they're shown side-by-side. Crucially, the Tesla connector is lightweight, smaller in size, and has an overall less-complicated design. According to Munro, anyone used to charging with a Tesla connector knows that any other connector is "goofy in comparison."
However, both the SAE J1772/CCS and the Tesla V4 NACS connector have similar max output capacities, rated at 360 kW and 350 kW, respectively. Currently, the Tesla Supercharger V3 connectors, which are the most widely available chargers, are able to output a maximum of 250 kW of power.
The normalization of a single standard of EV charging across North America is expected to act as a catalyst for the expansion of sustainable transportation in the region. This, of course, is not possible until all parties — including the governments — create policies around the standards. Some good news is that, last month, the state of Kentucky mandated the use of Tesla NACS charging connectors at all government-funded charging stations, which should set a good example for other states to follow.
Tesla opening its charging connector design to other automakers last year proved to be a good omen, and it has more recently received a warm welcome from the automotive industry and EV charging companies alike. Widespread adoption of the NACS charging equipment should also help reduce range anxiety for existing and potential EV owners across North America.
New EV manufacturing startups like Rivian will also greatly benefit from the use of the Tesla NACS connector and charge port design, because it will eliminate the need for companies to build their own charging networks. By adopting the NACS standard, OEMs can potentially save billions of dollars that they would otherwise use to build an EV charging network. On the other hand, a new revenue stream will open for Tesla as a result, along with a chance at free advertisement to non-Tesla EV owners.
Above video: Sandy Munro expressing his views on SAE’s standardization of the Tesla NACS connector.